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I've decided to add a Frequently Asked Questions feature on my website and blog as part of my Press Kit. So today, I'm asking for your help. What questions would you like me to answer? It can be anything about my writing or my books. Things like when I started writing, how I choose my genres, why I span age groups. Whatever you'd like.
Okay, you can ask me some silly questions too. Why not? I have a few quirks I'm willing to share for your amusement. Maybe I'll answer those as part of a vlog for fun. Sound good?
You're up. Leave me your questions in the comments. I won't answer them there though. I'm compile a list and share all the answers once I've finished. Thanks!
I had an exciting start to my week. Not only did I finally get to move back home, but I also got this picture from my amazing agent Sarah Negovetich.
If you're having trouble reading that, it's the deal announcement for Fading Into the Shadows, which will be published by Spencer Hill Press in 2016!
I love my editor at SHP. Trisha just gets me and the way my mind works, so I'm thrilled to work on another book with her. And this book was one that grabbed my attention from the start. It's actually the book that gave me the idea for the Touch of Death series. Yes, I drafted it before Touch of Death. I revised it after I completed the series though.
I can't wait to share more info with you, but for now I'll say it's fantasy and it involves a girl who will do anything to save her best friend after he goes missing. Of course she didn't realize "anything" involved another world of shadows and real life constellations trying to kill her.Anyone else have good writing news to share this week? Tackle a difficult chapter, finish a revision, get a new book idea? Let's celebrate together.
When I first started writing, I was convinced middle grade was the age level for me. I wrote two MG (middle grade) books and loved it. Then I went to a conference and listened to a panel of authors who primarily wrote picture books and thought maybe I should give that a try since I was constantly reading them to my daughter at the time. After that a YA (young adult) idea came to me. And years later, I got an idea that was clearly NA (new adult).
As you can see, I love all age groups. Writing across age groups has allowed me to branch out with my creativity, which I love. But it's also tricky. I'm revising one of my MG novels right now and my brain is stuck in YA mode. For a little while I wondered why, but I realized it's because I was reading two YA novels while revising my MG. There was my problem. In order to revise my MG, I need to be reading MG. That grounds me in the voice I need for that age level.
So, I'm scouring my MG books and diving into one this week while I revise. Am I the only one who does this, or do you read the age level you are currently writing?
Setting goals is a great thing because it gives us something to strive for and holds us accountable. I've seen a lot of writers posting their daily or weekly word count goals online. It's a great tactic because by telling people what you want to achieve, you have someone other than yourself to answer to. It's easy to say you're going to write 5,000 words, but doing it is another story. You know the drill. You sit down, open your document, crack your knuckles a few times, check your email, make that cup of tea or coffee you forgot to get before you sat down, walk the dog who is giving you those sad eyes, come back, down your tea or coffee, take a bathroom break… You see where this is going.
If you post your word count goal online for others to see, you feel obligated to hit that goal or at least come close. The downside to this is that when you don't hit your goal, it hurts more than if you didn't announce to cyberspace that you were going to finish that chapter or reach the 10K mark. And to be honest, there are times when life intervenes for legitimate reasons. So what do you do?
I say you post the goal. Yes, I realize I just said it can backfire, but if you have a real reason for not getting your goal, your followers will understand. On the other hand, if you are making excuses… ;) See, it's a great way to stop making excuses and get to work.
Do you post your goals online for all to see? Does it help you?
I've made my share of book trailers so I thought I'd share some tips on how you can make a trailer without spending a fortune. It's also fairly simple, so even if you aren't computer savvy, you can figure it out pretty quickly.
First, your computer comes with programs to create movies. I use iMovie because I have a Mac. PCs usually have Movie Maker. If you don't see an icon on your desktop, search your Applications. I'm willing to bet you'll find a program. The programs are designed to let you drop pictures into the frames and then add text, voiceover, music, etc. You get to set the duration of each clip, which is great for adjusting the length of your trailer to fit your music. There are even transitions to choose from between the slides.
Once you locate your program, you need to find images for your trailer. A very cost efficient way to do this is to create a book trailer for an entire series instead of each book. You can then use your book covers and crop them for images. That's what I did for the Touch of Death series. All the images, with the exception of one, came from the front and back covers of the books.I did the same thing for my Campus Crush series, written under my pen name.
If you have a budget that allows you to purchase images for your trailer, I suggest royalty-free stock photos. I use Shutterstock, which allows you to purchase images on demand. I usually opt for the package of five downloads, which isn't expensive at all, and you can almost always find a coupon code online to take about $10 off the price.
For The Monster Within, I opted to purchase images instead of sticking to my cover. I did find some sites (thanks to an article in the SCBWI Bulletin) that offer completely free images as long as you credit them. I found similar sites for the music tracks. Both are great options for keeping costs down. The Monster Within Book Trailer uses paid images and free images along with free music. I made sure to credit my sources on the final slide.
Another option is to film your book trailer yourself and hire some actors to portray your characters. I haven't tried this myself just yet, but maybe one day.
I recommend playing around with whatever movie program your computer has and get used to the different features and how they work. You'll be surprised by how easy it actually is to create a trailer for your book.
Today's topic came by request during this week's Monday Mishmash. The question was how do I stay focused, keep my butt in the chair, and work. The answer is actually pretty simple. If you want to be serious about writing, then you have to treat it like any other job.
Sure, I'd love to relax with a good book all day long. Who wouldn't? But I have a job to do. I have deadlines, whether they are self-imposed or given to me by my editors. Writing is a job like any other. Do I ever call in sick? Sure. I'm human. Things happen on occasion that make it impossible for me to write. But most days, I'm at my computer at set times each day. I know that's my work time, and I clock in just like any other job would require me to.
I would suggest having a set working area too. Right now I don't have an office, but I write in the same place every day. It conditions my brain to know it's time to work. I think that really helps. And if you do have an office, that's great. Use it, and I'll try not to get too jealous as I wait for my construction to finish so I can have an office. ;)
So really that's it. My advice for staying focused is to commit to making writing a job. A really fun job, but a job nonetheless.
Did the title of this post make anyone else break out into a Spice Girls' song? No? Just me? Okay, then. Moving on… I've been thinking about goals a lot lately. I've mentioned that I really want to be a NYT Best Seller, but there are a lot of other things I want too. Things that will most likely happen first.
So here's my list:
- To sell foreign rights for one of my books
- To have one of my books optioned for film
- To sign with a big name publisher
- To get an advance that makes me so blown away I cry and start planning a vacation
Okay, so that's my dream list, but do you know what? There will always be something that comes before all of those. Something that will mean more to me than all of them combined, even hitting the NYT list. And that's hearing from someone who loved my books. Nothing makes me happier than getting a letter from a fan telling me how much my story touched them or how they couldn't put it down. I read because I want to become immersed in another world and feel what the characters feel. I'm so thankful to all the authors who have allowed me to do that, and hearing that I did that for a reader is the best feeling ever.
So, yes, I want to be a NYT Best Selling Author. I do, but I want to connect with readers more.
What about you? Tell me what you want, what you really, really want. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
I've been kind of hard on myself lately. Why? Because I'm used to writing about six books a year, but this year, edits are getting in the way. Edits are important and have to take precedent since they are for contracted books, but sometimes I just want to write. I want to draft a new book from start to finish and not have to stop in order to edit an upcoming release.
There, I said it. Don't get me wrong though. I LOVE to revise and I love getting editorial feedback. The problem is that I've become a fast drafter of insane proportions. Earlier this year I wrote a book at a crazy pace, getting 18K in one day. I actually felt hungover the next day. lol I don't advise keeping that pace, nor am I looking to duplicate it. But I seem to always get to a certain point in a new draft when I'm pulled out to either revise one of my contracted books or edit for a client.
Again, I'm not complaining. I just miss drafting. I had to put aside a book that was surprising me left and right in a very good way. The characters had taken over. And now…I have another idea. See my problem? I have two books fighting to be written and I'm busy editing and revising.
What's a girl to do?
Blog: Kelly Hashway's Blog
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BEA!!! Okay, I still haven't come down from my BEA high. This is seriously my favorite event. Why? Because I always get to hang out with really awesome writers and bloggers and publishing people. Man, I love my job.
So, here's a recap of my BEA 2014 experience:
First, check out the awesome Spencer Hill Press signing chart. (Do you see my name?)
And here I am signing The Monster Within ARCs. Photo courtesy of the very awesome Miss Dvora Gelfond.
Fellow horror writer Charles Day stopped by to get an ARC of The Monster Within.
I got really amazing triquetra necklaces for my book, which we raffled off in baskets and during the signing. I don't think I'm ever taking mine off. It's so pretty!
And here's the beautiful Jennifer Allis Provost who made the triquetra necklaces for me because she's that awesome.
Brooke Delvecchio is one of the most adorable people ever. I love her.
Here I am with Richard Shealy, one of my copy editors.Here I am with Jessica Porteous, Lisa Amowitz, and Elizabeth Langston.My agency sister, Vicki Merkel, attended my signing.
Vikki Ciaffone is not my editor at SHP but I love her.And I got to meet Eliza Tilton in person finally too! And I met J.A. Ward.
I also had a signing as Ashelyn Drake for my upcoming YA contemporary Perfect For You. Swoon Romance was awesome about getting people to stop by my booth to pick up signed postcards and talk about the book. I also had two amazing dancers (Yes, I said dancers.) bringing people in. A special thanks to Dorothy Dryer and Dan Cohen. You two are the best cheerleaders ever!
After knowing Rachel Harris online for years we got to meet in person!
Okay, and this has nothing to do with my signings or meeting people, BUT… I finally got to see Rick Riordan!!! Thank you to Dan Cohen for making sure I got a picture of Rick this time.
AND…I got Becca Fitzpatrick's new book! Yay! I'm so excited to read it. I loved the Hush, Hush series. I have to thank Dan Cohen for this one too because he totally snagged me a copy early and I didn't even have to wait in line.
I had to leave early on Saturday because the train schedule changed and we are having work done on our house and had to be home for it. I was sad to go and am already counting the days until BEA 2015!
Please welcome my good friend and fellow author, Beth Fred. In addition to writing, Beth teaches courses on plot and writing book blurbs. She knows her stuff. So, without further ado, here's Beth!
Thanks for having me here to talk about plot today, Kelly.
What's the big deal about plot? Well, it's the structure of your whole story. Take a hardback fro your bookshelf. If the spine is in tact you can flip through it and not have to worry about what falls out. You can probably even stand it up, and it will stay because it has a backbone. The true backbone of that story is the plot. What really makes it stand up and stand out is the plot. It's true every now and then you come across a phenomenal book that made your faves list for other reasons like theme or characterization. Still it had to have some kind of plot even if that wasn't it's biggest strength. But most modern day bestsellers have a strong plot.
My favorite device and the plotting technique I teach is the three act structure. It's been around since the Greek plays. The three act structure is commonly used in films because it's all about keeping the tension up to push the story further and further along until it explodes into a climax and evens out in falling action. It's so popular right now because with the action scenes and sequences we are bombarded with in film and television, this is the pacing we are used to. The three act structure is by no means the only way to write a book. But it's perhaps the most common. It's in my view best and it's the one I use.
Another likely option is GMC. Goal, Motivation, Conflict. Debra Dixon wrote the book on this, literally, and you can find my review here. I had the opportunity to meet with Debra and she says that if you are using GMC the seven pivotal scenes of the three act structure are already in your story. But GMC works like this. Your MC has a goal for some reason (motivation). Conflict is whatever gets in the way of that goal but your MC will do whatever it takes to overcome the conflict and accomplish goals because well motivated human beings just don't like things getting in their way. This is a logical pattern and the book does a good job of showing how to use this for plotting. I just think it works better for characterization.
But, Beth, I'm a pantser. Well, so was/am I. That's another thing I love about the three act structure. I start my books with a seven sentence outline. That's it. Anything more is too much.
Do you plot? How so?
When we're drafting a new book or are preparing for a book to be published a fun thing to do is scour actors to potentially play the roles of our characters. Yes, it's dreaming big, but like I said it's fun. Since The Monster Within released yesterday, I want to share my dream cast—well, a partial cast at least.
Samantha Thompson ~ Sam is my MC. She dies of cancer at seventeen and is brought back to life by her longterm boyfriend, Ethan. Sam is strong but falls victim to a monster inside her, one that surfaces after she's brought back to life. She definitely has a dark side, but she's also a survivor. My pick for Sam is Adelaide Kane. You probably recognize her from the TV series Reign.
Ethan Anderson ~ Ethan is the male lead and Sam's boyfriend. He loves her so much he found a way to bring her back from the dead, but he won't tell her what he did. Ethan is extremely loving and sexy, but he's keeping a big secret. My choice for Ethan is Brandt Daugherty. You might recognize him as Noel Kahn on Pretty Little Liars.
Mr. Ryan ~ Mr. Ryan is one of Sam's teachers at her new school. He happens to both help Sam get used to a new school and cause problems for her at the same time because he's the hot young teacher every girl in school drools over. This was a no-brainer for me as far as casting Mr. Ryan. He's definitely Jensen Ackles, best known as Dean Winchester on Supernatural.
Now, there are a lot of other characters in this book, but I'm not going to post them all. Instead I'm going to show you the triquetra necklace that goes along with this book, because it's not just fun to think of dream casts. It's also fun to see objects in the book brought to life.
Do you create dream casts for your books? Do you do this before you start drafting, while you're writing, or after the book is finished?
Promotion is tough. I think we all can agree on that one. But there are ways to make it easier and one of them is to join forces with other authors. First, it's fun to cross promote with authors who write similar books. Second, you reach a bigger audience by merging your promotional efforts. Here's how I'm using group promotion right now:
- Group Book Tour: I have a book tour in the works with three other authors for this coming fall. Bookstores love to book multiple authors for events because it usually drives in more traffic. More authors means more fans.
- Group Blogs: I'm also part of two group blogs, YA Bound and Darkly Delicious YA. YA Bound has been around for a while and runs the very successful Swoon Thursday meme. We get a lot of traffic on a daily basis. DDYA is relatively new and made up of YA authors who write darker books. We promote each other's books and do joint giveaways. In fact, we have one going on right now. We're giving away a ton of our books. That's another plus to joining forces with other authors. You can offer big prizes for very low cost to you and the other authors.
Enter this giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter below.a Rafflecopter giveaway
- Blog Hops: I participate in blog hops, which also allow authors to band together and offer prizes to readers. The more authors, the more prizes, and the more happy readers.
These are just a few ways you can join forces with other authors and promote each other. I'm always looking for more ways, so feel free to share in the comments if you know of others.
Do you use group promotion?
I recently got an email from one of my publicists asking me what events I had coming up. To be honest, it was an eye opener for me. I planned a lot of events in the spring, but then there was a gap. A big gap. I have a book tour with other authors planned for the fall, but I realized my summer was wide open, which just isn't okay. So, I got my butt in gear and started contacting bookstores.
I reached out to a bookstore owner I met at YA Fest and got a very nice email stating she'd love to have me sign at her store this summer. I also contacted the Books-A-Million by me because they were on my list for the fall witch book tour for The Monster Within. But after I talked to the manager about the tour I also asked if I could come in alone over the summer for my Touch of Death series. And they said they'd order my books right away.
Sometimes we need a reminder to get ourselves out there. I love doing events. Other than writing a new book, it's the most fun part of this career. What I don't like is booking the events because it means I have to step out of my comfort zone and sell myself and my books to people. But that's exactly what I have to do. I'm really glad my publicist emailed me, because now I can go back to her and give her a list of events I have coming up.
What are you doing to put yourself out there?
Last week I talked about booking store signings to promote your books, and several people commented that they have books that are only available in ebook format so booking in-store signing wasn't an option. For that reason, I want to talk about ebook and online promotion today.
First of all, you can book signings for ebooks. You really can. I know authors who bring a laptop to the signings so people can go online and order their book. Since you don't have paperbacks to sign, you sign SWAG instead. Post cards or bookmarks work well for this. If you want to get more people to come, hold a raffle. You can have anyone who comes over to get signed SWAG enter, AND people who order your book online right there can get extra entries. They leave their contact info and you mail the prize to the winner if they aren't present for the drawing.
Aside from signings, you can host Twitter parties using a specific hashtag for your book. For instance, I'd use #TheMonsterWithin for a Twitter party for my YA witch book The Monster Within. Invite people to come for an hour in the evening (weekdays work best because people are busy on the weekends) and hold giveaways every fifteen minutes. The giveaways can be for anything: chocolate, ebooks, signed paperbacks, SWAG, gift cards, etc. Also, your book title will be mentioned in every hashtag, which might make your book trend on Twitter. Attendees can ask you questions about your book, but be prepared with teasers, videos (your book trailer and/or videos from your book's playlist), and other interesting things people would want to know in case attendees get shy. You don't want a silent Twitter feed.
Facebook parties are also great. You create a page for the event and run it much like the Twitter party. Come prepared with teasers and everything I mentioned for the Twitter party. Hold the giveaways the same way too. You can hold contests where people post pictures of your characters and the one that most closely resembles the character wins a prize. Be creative.
Book Blitzes are a great way to get your book on multiple blogs in a short period of time, usually one day or one week. When a book pops up all over the place, people notice. You can set up a book blitz yourself or through a touring company.
Blog Tours are similar to book blitzes but they are more in-depth. These include excerpts, interviews, guest posts, trailer reveals, giveaways, etc, in addition to just your cover, blurb, bio, and buy links. Again, you can set these up on your own or through a tour company.
Ads are another way to go if you're up for spending some cash. Goodreads, Facebook, and popular book sites all sell ad space for different size ads and they run for different lengths of time depending on price.
These are just a few ways to promote your ebook. Know any other ways? Please share in the comments.
Last Wednesday I talked about writing in small spurts, and the irony of that was I was fast drafting last week and I wrote 51,000 words in four days. That's a new record for me. I even broke my daily word count record, hitting a new high of 18K in a single day. It was…well, insane.
I did finish my draft and I was happy about that, but I was exhausted. It's crazy to think that sitting and typing would be so tiring, but it is! So I rewarded myself with a reading day on Monday. I lounged around and read Divergent. (Great book, by the way, and I'll be reviewing it later this month.) I learned something from my crazy week of writing pretty much non-stop. Writers need rewards. And we deserve them too. So don't forget to reward yourself for your hard work.
How will you reward yourself this week?
I've talked about branding before. How once you get a certain genre of books out there with your name on them (or even before, as was the case with me—sometimes just having books under contract is enough), you are branded as THAT genre author. I was branded as a paranormal author. But if you recall, I did put out two novellas that were outside my brand. Remember these?
The third novella never came out. Want to know why? My brand was working against me, so I had the series pulled. Yes, I talked to Swoon Romance and we agreed to take the series down. Why? Because I decided to create a pen name and write contemporary romance as Ashelyn Drake. Also, when I wrote the Game. Set. Match. Heartbreak series, it wasn't a novella series. It was a full-length novel. And with my new brand under Ashelyn, I wanted that full novel back because that's how I always envisioned the story to be told. Well, I didn't just put the book back together. I did a major rewrite. I deleted the first three chapters. Yup, gone! I got right into the heart of the story and backed off the tennis theme that previously ran throughout the book. Why am I telling you all this? Simple. Game. Set. Match. Heartbreak is now a novel titled Perfect For You, and it's coming out in September through Swoon Romance. It has a gorgeous new cover that is being revealed this Friday with YA Bound Book Tours. (You can sign up to help with the reveal here if you're interested.)
But I'm not sharing this story today because I have a reveal coming up. I'm sharing my story because sometimes things don't happen the way we envision them, but that doesn't mean that we can't take things into our own hands and change things. Luckily, Swoon Romance was great about helping me with my vision for this book, but I was prepared to self-publish the title if I needed to.
So just because things don't happen the way you want them to at first, don't be afraid to make changes and alter the future of your book. I'm really glad I did.
Pressure is something we all feel from time to time. Pressure to write a great book, to find an agent, to get a good book deal, to make a living from writing. I've seen great writers talk about quitting, and it makes me sad. I know quite a few NY Times Bestsellers. Sometimes that's tough for me because as happy as I am to see my friends succeed, I wonder if I'll ever get there myself. That's when I feel the pressure.
There's one thing I do know for certain, though. I'll never stop writing. I'll never stop trying to become a NY Times Bestseller. But you know what? I'll also never take it for granted that I can write for a living. It's the best job in the world (after being Mom), and I'm so thankful that my husband makes enough money to pay the bills and my income isn't that big of a deal. Sure I make money writing and editing, but I'm no J.K. Rowling or Rick Riordan. For now, I'm okay with that.
I keep reminding myself that it's okay to push toward my dreams, but I have to also enjoy the journey—where I am now. I'll never stop feeling the pressure this industry can place on me, but I won't let it consume me either.
How do you deal with the pressure of the writing industry?
On Monday I got a nice surprise in my mailbox.
My ARC of The Monster Within! Yay! I spent yesterday proofreading it. I never get tired of reading this book because Sam and Ethan are very special to me. And of course I made a teaser video for you. Enjoy!
I have an author event this Sunday that I've gone to for the past few years. It's not an event where I can sell books. (It's not even an event that focuses on books. The focus is local businesses.) I have a table to display my books, business cards, and SWAG to giveaway, but I am not allowed to sell anything. Why do I do this? Simple. Being an author isn't just about selling books. It's about sharing what we do and making people into readers.
At this event, I talk to people about writing in general—how I went from idea to book, how I found my agent, how I got published, and what I do on a daily basis. The amazing thing is that most of the people in attendance are non-readers, and yet they find authors interesting. I think it's because authors genuinely love what we do. Sharing my writing career with strangers is so much fun for me. Sure, some of these people take my business cards and order my books. I know because they come back the following year and tell me they bought one of my books and what they thought of it. That's great because of course I love getting sales, but it's not why I go to this event.
It's about making connections with readers and/or turning people into readers. I've also gotten invites to other author appearances each year from the people I speak with at this event.
So marketing isn't just about selling copies of your books. Keep that in mind when you book your next event.
I've been tagged by the lovely Fiona Phillips to talk about my writing process. So, here I go! I primarily write young adult speculative fiction, but I also write middle grade and picture books because I love children's books in general. I'm the author of the Touch of Death series through Spencer Hill Press, which can be found here.
What am I working on?
Lots of stuff, as always. I'm revising three sequels right now, all set to come out in 2015. I'm also writing a new book that is so top secret I can't talk about it yet. ;) And I'm getting ready for the release of The Monster Within in June.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I love to find ways to twist plots so they aren't just more of what's already been done. So far I've written about descendants of Medusa, psychic vampires, and Phoenixes. I love anything out of the ordinary and that helps as far as making sure my work is unique.
Why do I write what I do?
I've always felt that paranormal and fantasy are like the real world only better. I find writing this genre is a great way to escape from life for a little while and step into something a little more interesting.
How does my writing process work?
I spend a lot of time plotting books before I start drafting, but then I typically let my characters take over and throw out my original planning because my characters are much smarter than I am. I also like to fast draft, writing as much as 18K in one day. I find the story flows better when I write that quickly.
Here's who's up next week for the My Writing Process Blog Hop:
Beth Fred: Beth Fred is the author of Fate of a Marlowe Girl, The Other Marlowe Girl, and A Missing Peace.
Kym Brunner: Kym Brunner dreams entire books in her head, but then needs about a year to write the whole thing down. She wishes there was an app for this. When she's not writing, she's teaching 7th grade or watching movies, reality TV, or scoping out the social media scene. Friend her at Author Kym Brunner or find her on Goodreads.
If you read my Monday Mishmash, then you know I've been busy with my own revisions and editing for clients. Something that came up in both is repetition. Sometimes you want repetition for emphasis or to offer a new insight, like when your MC makes a big revelation. But in most cases, repetition needs to be cut. Here's why.
Repetition just tells the reader what they already know. You're almost insulting the reader's intelligence by assuming they can't remember certain details. Consider if the reminder is necessary or if that space on the page is better spent offering the reader something new. Most of the time, you should be offering new information that moves the story forward.
Repetition slows down the pace of your story. If you want tension to be high, don't backtrack by reminding us of details you've already mentioned. I know it's tough sometimes to hit that delete key because you spent countless hours pouring over those words and they're brilliant. The problem is, those words were brilliant when you said them the first time. After that...you see where I'm going with this.
Most repetition comes from drafting or revising in stages. How many times have you gotten a great idea for something to add during revisions only to find you said the exact same thing (or just about) a few paragraphs later? I do this all the time, and I have to then edit one of those out. My tip is to try to revise in the least sittings possible because that will allow you to catch more instances of repetition.
I challenge you to find repetition in your own work and see if it's really needed.
Since I have three author events and another (BEA) next month, I thought I'd share a few tips for author signings. I hope you find them helpful.
- Don't just sit behind a table. If you have to be behind a table (which I had to be at YA Fest), then stand. One, you're more visible—especially if you are short like I am and you don't clear your books by much when you sit. Two, you're more approachable because you appear closer to the people in attendance. Third, sitting can make you appear bored, which is not a message you want to send.
- Smile and talk to everyone. No one wants to approach an author who is blank-faced. Smile and be personable. Ask people where they're from. Ask how there day is going. Ask what kind of books they like to read.
- Talk about more than just your book. Yes, you are there to sell your books, but you're a human being too. Let people see that. Comment on a clever saying on a T-shirt someone is wearing or a cool color nail polish. Show that you aren't just a salesman. You're a person who cares about more than just making money.
- Sit when you sign. Yes, I know I told you to stand, and you should, but when it comes to signing the book, sit down. Your handwriting will be neater. I was so nervous for my first signing that my hand shook. Sitting down helps with that nervous shaking that can make your signature look like an elementary-school student wrote it. Once you're finished signing, stand back up and engage the reader again.
- Offer to take a picture. This one I learned from the very awesome Jennifer Armentrout. She offered to take pictures with everyone, which was great because sometimes fans are too shy or nervous to ask you for a picture. This takes the pressure off them.
- Bring SWAG. Offering something extra to readers, whether it's a bookmark, candy, stickers, tattoos, etc, goes a long way. I went through two huge bags of zombie limb candy at YA Fest. And... it brought people to my table because they wanted to know what it was. Also, those who liked zombies, then asked me what my books were about. See how that worked? ;)
- Have a sign-up sheet for your newsletter. This is one I forgot to do, but will definitely do in the future. Business cards get lost (or put through the wash if people leave them in their pockets), so even if people take them, you don't know that they'll use them. However, if they leave their email address, you can sign them up for your newsletters and know that they are getting the info about your books.
Those are my top tips for author signings. Do you have any other tips you want to mention?
You know those authors who spam you with buy links all the time? Well, I think most of us know that's not the best route to take when you want to get the word out about your books. But you don't want to go in the complete opposite direction either, where you don't even tell people you're a writer. First, you should be proud of what you do, because writing a book is a great accomplishment. And second, you should be enthusiastic about what you do, because that will make other people excited, too.
I went to an author signing this month and met a very young author. She self-published her novel and while she knew that this wouldn't be her best book ever because it was the first novel she ever wrote, she had this enthusiasm that made people stop at her table and talk to her. She greeted everyone who walked by and told them all that she's a teenage writer. She was proud of that fact. She wasn't trying to push her book on them. She was simply sharing her love of writing with those around her. Because of this, people listened to her, asked her questions, and even told others about her. Before the event was over, she was interviewed by the local TV station because she stood out for both her age and her enthusiasm.
I think we all can learn something from this young girl. Author events are about making connections and sharing our love of books and writing. If we focus on that, people will be drawn to our enthusiasm, and we just might sell more books in the process.
Today's topic came by request from Taurean Watkins after last week's Writer Wednesday post about enthusiasm. Taurean wanted some tips for how to handle author events if you are shy or if you get extremely nervous talking about your books. So, here are my tips for you all.
If you get nervous talking about your own books or approaching potential readers, bring a friend or family member along who has read your book and is willing to talk you up. The advantage of doing this is that someone else is enthusiastically promoting you and your work, so you won't come off as the author who loves to talk about him/herself. This person can greet people as they come into the store, library, or wherever you are holding your event. They can invite people to come meet you and check out your books.
Now, what do you do when people come up to you if you're shy or nervous? If you're hands shake, then I suggest holding something. Got a stack of business cards, bookmarks, or other SWAG? (You should!) Hold it and hand the SWAG to whoever stops by your table. That will give your hands something to do to keep from shaking and to keep you from fidgeting.
Next, ask people what kind of books they like to read. This takes the focus off you and gets the potential reader talking. Feel free to discuss books you love, too. It doesn't and shouldn't just be about your book that you're selling. Make a connection and have a real conversation. That should put you more at ease and get you talking. Don't like talking about your book and feeling like a salesman? That's fine. Encourage people to pick up your book, to read the blurb, and to flip through the pages. Some readers prefer to read the back cover than to ask you what the book is about.
Too nervous to ask people to sign up for your newsletter/mailing list? That's fine, too. Have a sign-up sheet front and center so it's visible. Want to offer more but fear you're too shy? How about making a YouTube video ahead of time and then bringing a laptop so people can view the video? When you make a video, it's just you talking to your computer. The pressure of face-to-face interaction isn't there. But…by playing the video for people, you are giving them that interaction they want without having the in-the-moment pressure.
I hope these tips are helpful, and if you have any to add, please leave them in the comments.
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Lately, I've seen a lot of writers online talking about why readers don't always leave reviews. Honestly, if you love books and want to support the industry, then you should review those books online. It doesn't take long to write a review, and you can copy and paste it on Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes & Noble. So why don't more readers do it?
I don't know, but I've decided that since I want others to leave reviews for my books, I'm going to make a real effort to post reviews for the books I read. I'm good at posting reviews on my blog, but sometimes I forget to post to Amazon, etc. Not anymore. I'm going to make sure my reviews go up all over. Why? Because reviews help authors. Because reviews don't have to be really long or take up too much time to write. Because I love books.
So today I'm asking you to join me in pledging to review the books you read. Even if your review is a brief paragraph, you're helping authors and potential readers. It's worth it. Who's with me?